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Meeting about Union Station to Georgetown Streetcar Transportation Improvements “will evaluate the environmental and cultural effects”

by Prince Of Petworth November 2, 2016 at 2:45 pm 56 Comments


From DDOT:

“The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) along with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) invite the community to a public meeting Thursday, November 17, 2016, to discuss the proposed Union Station to Georgetown Streetcar Environmental Assessment (EA). This EA considers alternative approaches to extending the existing streetcar line from Union Station to Georgetown and will evaluate the environmental and cultural effects of the proposed improvements.

This meeting will be focused on the west end of the study area, specifically the West End, Foggy Bottom, and Georgetown neighborhoods, from K Street NW at 20th Street to Lower K Street at Wisconsin Avenue.

The study is being conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA), and will be released by DDOT, FHWA, and FTA in the summer of 2017.

WHAT: Union Station to Georgetown Streetcar Public Meeting

WHEN: Thursday, November 17, 2016
6 pm – 8 pm; presentation at 6:30 pm

WHERE: Pinstripes at Georgetown Park, Ballroom A/B
1064 Wisconsin Avenue, NW”

  • SF

    What a waste of money. WMATA is burning, but we’re going to install an expensive version of the circulator so bored tourists can ride around DC for free.

    • Ashy Oldlady

      +1. The H Street line illustrates just why this is a bad idea.

      • Anon H St

        This is an extension of the H St line that was always supposed to happen. The H St line is not useful right now bc it has not yet been extended. If anything, I think the H St line illustrates just why this is a good idea.

        • Ashy Oldlady

          Without a dedicated right of way, the streetcar is worse than a bus line.

    • carol

      Their is also the G2 wich connects george town to the rest of DC.

      • FridayGirl

        +1. The best option would be to make the G2 run more than once ever 40 minutes on the weekends -_-

    • maxwell smart

      +1000. WMATA is in a financial sinkhole on the verge of a Federal Takeover, and here DC is willing to spend buckets of money on a streetcar that will effectively perform as well as a bus. Why don’t we invest a smaller amount of money into bus only lanes on major corridors instead?

      • Anon

        “+1000. WMATA is in a financial sinkhole on the verge of a Federal Takeover, and here DC is willing to spend buckets of money on a streetcar that will effectively perform MUCH WORSE THAN A BUS. Why don’t we invest a smaller amount of money into bus only lanes on major corridors instead?”


        • maxwell smart

          I was giving the Streetcar the benefit of the doubt, but yes. Unless it has it’s own lane, it’s basically a fancier, less flexible bus. And if it does have it’s own lane, then why didn’t we just make a bus lane to begin with?

          • whoa_now

            you guys know this isn’t wmata right?

          • maxwell smart

            Yes, it’s DDOT. But the point is that WMATA is in a financial sinkhole and needs money. Money that in part comes from DC. Whom I also assume provides money to DDOT. From the outside, it appears that DC is choosing to invest in transit other than WMATA.

          • whoa_now

            ok, just checking. i get it…but looking at the moves from the current GM – one has to wonder where WMATA is headed – I believe he is looking at it as a commuter mode (at least rail) – long headways outside of rushhour – DC would be smart to look at all options regarding making transportation in the core better for DC residents. This does that. I’m not for the streetcar – but I do think DC needs to think about transporting its residents in the event that WMATA rail essentially becomes a commuter rail for people in VA/MD.

          • maxwell smart

            That’s really the source of the problem – it’s a commuter rail at it’s core, but is trying to act like a subway, and failing at both.

    • greg

      Until WMATA gets full support from both MD and VA, which is part of the reason it continues to be financially handicapped, don’t you think it makes sense for DC to invest in transit options that are not dependent on the investment of other jurisdictions?

      As an H St resident, yeah, the implementation of the line between 3rd and 14th was stupid, but hopefully the planners will have realized that and not make the same mistake in further lines.

      • Anon X

        “don’t you think it makes sense for DC to invest in transit options that are not dependent on the investment of other jurisdictions?”


    • RyanD

      WMATA has a lot of problems, and I loathe to bring them into the picture. One of the biggest, in my opinion, is that Metro is a hybrid commuter and city rail. Get the consistent frequency and stop spacing that works best for DC hurts the commuter rail part. And greater distances from downtown and things like forward-facing seats hurt the city subway part.

      The streetcar is focused on inner-city rail and can do a lot to improve mobility in DC proper. Now, to do that: dedicated lanes, better planning, etc, etc.

    • anonymous2u

      It is not WMATA it is DDOT who doing the study and is responsible for the ridiculous streetcar project. I’m amazed they still have funding for his and that multiple people haven’t been fired. What an absolute waste of taxpayer money!

    • Brett M

      +100 And the overhead wires are so antiquated

    • Brett M

      +100 And the overhead wires are so antiquated

  • Mars

    No offense to my peeps in North East, but this segment of the streetcar line (from K/water street through downtown) should have been built first. Georgetown, the West End, and Downtown get a significant amount of foot traffic – much more than the H street corridor. Downtown has the highest concentration of workers, the West End has the highest residential density in the city, and Georgetown gets the most foot traffic. So the streetcar will be used much more. It was the same plan that Metro engineers had in mind when they designed the first stations in and around downtown. In addition, placing it on Water Street, below the Whitehaven would help ease up traffic on M Street, which is a disaster.
    Nobody uses the H street streetcar because the population density is relatively low (even with the new developments), and it doesn’t provide a direct route downtown.

    • JS

      The West End isn’t the densest residential neighborhood in the city – Logan overtook Columbia Heights for that distinction a few years ago. I believe that Noma will pass both of those neighborhoods once it’s fully built out.

      • andy2

        Recent article actually said Navy Yard – but the fact that is most important is this part of the city is under-served by rail compared to Logan (all lines within short walk) and Columbia Heights (y/g).

  • caroline

    the street car was a disaster, why would you expand it!

    • dcpolis

      studies vary, but it’s probably cheaper than buses despite its higher initial costs. it’s certainly not the boondoggle opponents make it out to be. carrying capacity is higher. operating costs are lower. it’s a smoother ride. it’s cheaper and easier to expand capacity. it’s better for the environment.
      arguably, the h street line has already paid for itself with the increased tax base, and this is despite it being one of the most poorly planned streetcars in the country. plus, the h street section can always be retroactively improved to have a dedicated lane, its main flaw. adding this k street-gtown section will make the streetcar an actual people mover and a good, functioning part of dc’s transportation system, not some tourist attraction (which people say like it’s a bad thing. if it is, why don’t we get rid of the mall, with all of it’s development potential, bc it’s just a tourist trap).

      • GBinCH

        You assume the streetcar created to the expanded tax base. I would argue the opposite – the streetcar was only planned once the area started gentrifying heavily. Had no streetcar been planned, I think H Street would still be seeing the growth it is now.

        • dcpolis

          yeah, that’s the arguably part. i would argue that there’s some alpha from the streetcar, but of course dc has developed generally over the same time period. i see the counter argument, and it’s very difficult to prove what would have happened. i think the best comparison would be georgia avenue, which is a bus rich, metro poor area close to the city that has not received nearly the same investment as h street.

        • Ben

          When do you define “gentrifying heavily”? Street car plans for H St started in the late 90s.

      • carol

        But the streetcar then becomes fixed and cannot be moved or altered once the dynamics of the neighborhood changes. It is much less flexible.

        • dcpolis

          those new apartments aren’t going anywhere. there will still be people there to move, regardless of whether the “dynamics” change, whatever that means. on a broader note, this isn’t supplementing some low capacity bus line going to like spring valley or fairfax county. dc is not that big, and there are not that many huge corridors which move the vast majority of people. and it isn’t some crazy gamble that these corridors will continue to exist.

          • C_petworth

            I just am not sure what problems this Georgetown street car will sovle and the H street street car does solve.

            Georgetown has some of the worst traffic in the city. Taking up a lane to put in a street car will only make that worse.

            Georgetown is a 20 minute walk from 1 metro stop and a 25 minute walk from 3 metro stops. That is not an outrages distance to travel to get to a rail car. I have used the H street street car and after you account for all the stops it takes and traffic it gets stuck, I walk from Union station to the end of H street almost faster then the street car!

            I just do not see a need for a street car existing here, nor do I see one improving the current travel woes of the area mainly the traffic and the time it takes to get to a metro stop.

          • dcpolis

            i doubt they’ll run it down m street, so you can let the concern about losing a lane of traffic go. (if gtown loses a lane of traffic, it’ll probably be to expand the sidewalks.) also, most of the traffic in gtown is commuter traffic from va, md, palisades, etc. the streetcar will be an east-west, crosstown people mover, so no overlap there. and yes, being stuck in traffic is a huge problem, you are correct on that point. but again, it can be fixed and it surely won’t be repeated in the k street section, otherwise many people should be fired.

          • Planner

            But that is one problem with the Union Station to Georgetown route – there isn’t a whole lot of redevelopment potential. Oh I suppose you could replace some B buildings with new A buildings, but the new ones won’t be much more dense, at least not to the extent we’ve seen on H St. So we’re left with its value as a people mover, and we immediately run up against the lack of a dedicated lane which limits its capacity in that area. Even so, it might be worth building, but its no slam-dunk.
            (On a side note, I definitely remember some articles discussing the positive impact the streetcar had on H Street developers but I haven’t found them again, yet.)

          • C_petworth

            also, most of the traffic in g-town is commuter traffic from va, md, palisades, etc. the streetcar will be an east-west, crosstown people mover, so no overlap there

            that is my point! There is no overlap to helping alleviate the traffic problem, so we loose a lane of traffic somewhere in Georgetown , without solving the cause of traffic in Georgetown which equals more traffic in Georgetown.

            the G2 and circulatory currently move people east to west already , and DuPont circle which is a 25 minute walk away from P and Wisconsin already connects people to Union station.

          • C_petworth

            “also, most of the traffic in g-town is commuter traffic from va, md, palisades, etc. the streetcar will be an east-west, crosstown people mover, so no overlap there”

            was meant to be in quotes

          • maxwell smart

            No, but on a day to day basis, there is no option for the streetcar to detour to avoid any of the number daily happenings in DC.

          • dcpolis

            gtown has a traffic problem. period. running the streetcar down water street will not make it worse. plus, we shouldn’t let commuters stop gtown from gaining some connectivity to the city. you are right, there are some mediocre at best transit options to move people across town, but the circulator can’t get you to noma, union station, h street, or anacostia. so then you’re back to the bus vs. streetcar debate, which i think favors streetcar long term.
            also, planner. agreed re limited development upside along k street. but without that you lose the actual transit functionality. if a white elephant generated this much investment along h street, i would argue an actual functioning east-west transit line would generate even more in the residential corridors moving east.

  • spookiness

    Good. Assess lessons learned and move forward.

    • regular rider

      I agree. Thus far, I’ve had a pretty good experience on the streetcar. It’s particularly easy to travel with a stroller. Transferring at Union Station to the Circulator usually leads to a 10 minute delay.

  • Paul H

    Since the inevitable comment wars on streetcar are, really, boring the rest of us to tears, why don’t we all agree to wait until DDOT makes it’s presentation before voting for our against the proposal?

    • Paul H

      Sorry about auto correct typos…

      • Anon

        Your typos are boring us to tears too. Couldn’t you have waited on your typos until DDOT presents a plan?

  • kapitolhill

    Put this in a SEPARATE LANE and I’m all for it. None of this “sharing” with cars.

    • andy2

      YES – this. dDot is already re-doing K Street so this actually makes even more sense to put in rail. A dedicated lane that connects Georgetown to Union Station (and beyond) is great. It would give folks along downtown an option to connect to Union Station without using Metro. This would free up capacity on Metro allowing more folks to use it to get to destinations beyond Union Station. Same logic applies to Purple Line. It allows folks to go from New Carlton to Bethesda without having to go all the way into the city and back out again.

      I also hope they do a management assessment and find all the @$$ hats that screwed up the H Street line and fire them or keep them far far away from this.

    • Anon. no. 5

      At rush hour, walking is the FASTEST mode of transport along K Street. I’m all for anything that improves that fact, whether it be streetcar, bus rapid transit, street modifications, or monorail…

      • Bort

        A monorail really put North Haverbrook on the map…

    • maxwell smart

      But couldn’t we do this now with the existing (bus) infrastructure? Which would take considerably less time and money to implement. Do that for a while and get people used to the revised traffic patterns, parking, commuting, etc and get people aware and excited. Then make this investment once it works.

  • Simon

    Of course, that makes sense.

    I mean the first streetcar was 4 years late and 125 million (twice priced) over budget and I one rides it. It currently cost millions of more per year to operate because it is free (because no one rides it).

    This boondoggle actually was responsible in no small part for the uprising and cancellation of the Arlington street car, so OFCOURSE we would want to blow hundreds of millions more on expanding it.

    DC never fails to amaze me.

  • Mars

    All – remember that you build transit for the future, not the present. Sure, Metro is crappy now and everyone complains, but our commutes would be a heck of a lot worse without it, and it will get fixed eventually. But with DC (and the close in suburb) population boom, there’s no way the region can sustain our car-based current infrastructure, which is already overtaxed. Long-term, people will ride the H street car when it’s connected to the rest of the city. And we’re going to need the Georgetown Streetcar, and one on Georgia Avenue too.

    • anon

      In that case it’s a perfect plan, the new streetcar line will probably be operational about the time we join the Federation of Planets.

  • maxwell smart

    1 word: MONORAIL!

  • anon7

    What really needs to happen is an expansion of the Metro system itself. Given WMATA’s current situation, that seems fanciful. But in terms of the future of this city, extending the current system is a more efficient approach than implementing a whole new street car system. For instance, shouldn’t the new Walter Reed have a metro stop? 16th Street is already a commuting nightmare. What if there were a metro line going from georgetown all the way through H street. Waaay better than a street car.
    I know this would be expensive and likely impossible for the immediate future, but transportation is also about planning for the distant future.

    • maxwell smart

      Will never happen. The cost and logistical nightmare of building anymore below ground tunnels and stations alone would make this impractical, even though it would be the better option from a speed of commuting perspective. You still have the issue that the system is trying to be both a subway and a commuter rail, so adding more stations and lines just compounds the issue.

    • spookiness

      Do not expect any digging of tunnels for a long time, if ever again. Better intra-DC neighborhood to neighborhood surface transit is the doable however.

    • textdoc

      If I remember correctly, circa 2011ish there was a plan to add a north-south streetcar route that was going to run on Georgia Avenue and go past Walter Reed. Of course that is no longer on the table.
      I don’t see WMATA — especially given all of its current troubles — building any brand-new lines in the city’s core. If there’s room for new infill-type stations on existing lines, like the NoMa-Gallaudet station was and like the proposed station at Potomac Yard in Virginia would be, that’s one thing. But building new lines from scratch? Not gonna happen.

  • anonymous2u

    Unfortunately DDOT has proven their total incompetence to deliver anything resembling a cost effective transportation solution. I don’t think they should even be allowed to discuss this. Accept the disaster they created on H st. for $100s of millions from our money and move on.

  • Anon

    We need more and better public transport options in DC for sure. As a H St local, I would love the streetcar to extend across the city into Georgetown, especially if it has its own lane and if we increased its frequency. It’s more environmentally friendly, cheaper to run and a smoother experience than the bus, plus you can count on its schedule.


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